You won’t read this in any change management text book. It’s not taught in MBA courses. It’s a little irreverent, but it’s a healthy dose of the truth.
I’ve written other articles about the importance of gaining buy-in from users when going through the process of planning and implementing your CRM. I’ve also written about listening to the user’s seemingly small complaints and acting on them to find a fix – after all little annoyances can seem big when you’re repeating them over and over.
This is all true and valid. But what if there isn’t anything in it for the individual user to use the system consistently and properly – no immediate upside and no obvious downside?
Clearly, any task we ask our users to do in CRM has an ultimate purpose. Sometimes that purpose is downstream and invisible to the person expected to update CRM. Purposes like:
- To produce accurate management reporting from which important decisions can be made.
- To have clean customer information so Marketing don’t embarrass the company by sending emails to ‘Dear ***no first name on form***,’.
- The dispatch team in the warehouse having this crazy obsession with mailing product to valid and deliverable addresses.
- Ensuring automations and workflows are triggered for actioning downstream – so others can do their jobs too.
It would be nice to think that pointing out these impacts would suddenly make everyone motivated to do the right thing and keep on top of their CRM updates. But alas, people are people and will often focus on the big, visible tasks of their role – the things that will bite them immediately if they don’t do them.
While CRM is capable of all sorts of automations that remove some reliance on people to update records, there’s some things that will always require good old manual data entry.
When you implement a CRM it’s usually because your previous method of managing customer information was not working too well. If you came from a world where all your staff needed to do is add a row in a spreadsheet, they may be feeling like things take longer now that you have CRM. Yes, that’s sometimes the case, but remember the good reasons why you needed a CRM in the first place. There are benefits to your business that are being realised through those extra keystrokes.
So, what do you do to make sure it gets done. There’s no deep philosophical answer to this. There comes a point when you just have to say, “Just shut-up and do it because it’s your job”. It’s the grown-up version of “Because I’m the Mummy, and I said so”.
It’s not that you need to treat your people like children, but as it is with encouraging any behaviour, repetitive messaging, constant supervision and negative consequences can sometimes be the only way to make sure consistent updates are made in CRM.
At Beyond CRM, we’re a business too and we use CRM like our business depends on it – because it does. We are by no means immune from these human struggles.
We’re constantly reminding and cajoling to get our team to update CRM. Yes, we check up on the team routinely and audit that records reflect the current state. Are your emails tracked to the CRM record? Is the Order process reflecting the right stage? Is there a record of that phone call? Has that support case been logged? And if not, why not?
This is how we make sure our customer service doesn’t slip and tasks don’t fall through the cracks. It’s how we get good reporting and make informed decisions at a management level.
Some businesses we’ve worked with, use a stick approach. If the sales people don’t enter their Opportunities into CRM and the sale converts, they don’t pay commission on the sale. They live by the catch cry “If it’s not in CRM it didn’t happen”.
Harsh? Maybe. Effective? Absolutely. After all, it’s critical that the business has accurate pipeline reporting and reliable data on opportunity conversion rates to plan for the future. But it’s also critical for sales people that they get paid. They’re funny like that.
This isn’t meant to depress you. A CRM, used properly, is a vital tool for any business. The naked truth is that it takes constant effort (from everyone) to make sure you’re getting the best value out of your investment. The only other option is to not have a CRM at all – and that’s a thought too dreadful to imagine.